GOOD

To Be As Safe As Possible, Self-Driving Cars Will Be Programmed To Kill

Would you buy a self-driving car that could be programmed to ‘sacrifice’ the driver?

Every week, we’re privy to newer and newer stories that suggest the age of autonomous or “self-driving” cars is nearing. With the promise of leisurely riding to and from work also comes the expectation that putting cameras, computers, and machines in charge will make the roads safer.

And it undoubtedly will.


But as we near the reality of self-driving cars, we’re also reminded that machines are cold and calculating. Their decisions will not be based on emotion, but on preprogrammed logic. So now ethicists, engineers, programmers, consumers, and lawmakers are all faced with the question of “What happens when harm is inevitable in a crash?” Who does the car decide to save?

There have been countless scenarios presented that explain the conundrum, but most exist as some derivation of “a car is speeding out of control on a mountain road as children cross the street. The car must decide whether it is to continue into the pedestrians, likely killing several, or veer off a cliff, ensuring the death of the driver.”

It’s known colloquially as the “trolley problem.”

It’s not a very fun scenario to imagine, but when we put our lives in the hands of computers, such scenarios are what dictate the relationship between man and machine.

It’s a funny notion to think of someone handing over money to buy an “improved” self-driving car which also could decide to kill you, but the utilitarian approach dictates this would be the case. You would still be far safer in daily driving at the mercy of a machine, but people ARE thinking about this.

In order to get ahead of the discussion and controversy, Mercedes has already gone on record saying that its cars will protect passengers, not bystanders. Good news for Mercedes owners, but if you happen to be crossing the street while an autonomous Benz is heading your way, you might want to hurry to the other side, just in case.

No matter which way the public and programmers lean, it’s inevitable that cars will make a decision to kill someone. Just who that someone is remains to be seen.

Articles
NHM Vienna/Hans Reschreiter

Wealth inequality has been a hot topic of discussion as of late, but it's something that's occurred all throughout history. Class structure is a complicated issue, especially when you consider that haves and have nots have been in existence for over 4,000 years.

A study published in Science took a look at over 100 late Neolithic and early Bronze Age skeletons found in a burial site in southern Germany. The study "shed light on the complexity of social status, inheritance rules, and mobility during the Bronze Age." Partly by looking at their teeth and the artifacts they were buried with, researchers were able to discover that wealth inequality existed almost 4,000 years ago. "Our results reveal that individual households lasting several generations consisted of a high-status core family and unrelated low-status individuals, a social organization accompanied by patrilocality and female exogamy, and the stability of this system over 700 years," the study said.

Keep Reading Show less
Culture

Climate change means our future is uncertain, but in the meantime, it's telling us a lot about our past. The Earth's glaciers are melting at an alarming rate, but as the ice dwindles, ancient artifacts are being uncovered. The Secrets of the Ice project has been surveying the glaciers on Norway's highest mountains in Oppland since 2011. They have found a slew of treasures, frozen in time and ice, making glacier archeologists, as Lars Pilø, co-director of Secrets of the Ice, put it when talking to CNN, the "unlikely beneficiaries of global warming."

Instead of digging, glacier archeologists survey the areas of melting ice, seeing which artifacts have been revealed by the thaw. "It's a very different world from regular archaeological sites," Pilø told National Geographic. "It's really rewarding work.

Keep Reading Show less

When former Pittsburgh Steelers' center Mike Webster committed suicide in 2002, his death began to raise awareness of the brain damage experienced by NFL football players. A 2017 study found that 99% of deceased NFL players had a degenerative brain disease known as CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy). Only one out of 111 former football players had no sign of CTE. It turns out, some of the risks of traumatic brain injury experienced by heavily padded adults playing at a professional level also exist for kids with developing brains playing at a recreational level. The dangers might not be as intense as what the adults go through, but it can have some major life-long consequences.

A new PSA put out by the Concussion Legacy Foundation raises awareness of the dangers of tackle football on developing brains, comparing it to smoking. "Tackle football is like smoking. The younger I start, the longer I am exposed to danger. You wouldn't let me smoke. When should I start tackling?" a child's voice can be heard saying in the PSA as a mother lights up a cigarette for her young son.

Keep Reading Show less
via Gage Skidmore / Flickr

On Tuesday morning, President Trump tweeted about some favorable economic numbers, claiming that annual household income is up, unemployment is low, and housing prices are high.

Now, just imagine how much better those numbers would be if the country wasn't mired in an economy-killing trade war with China, bleeding out trillion-dollar-a-year debts, and didn't suffer from chaotic leadership in the Oval Office?

At the end of tweet, came an odd sentence, "Impeach the Pres."

Keep Reading Show less
Politics

October is domestic violence awareness month and when most people think of domestic violence, they imagine mostly female victims. However, abuse of men happens as well – in both heterosexual and homosexual relationships. But some are taking it upon themselves to change all that.

Keep Reading Show less
Culture